Writing a great statement of purpose

Writing a great statement of purpose

Written by Lilian Ndongmo. ESL Teacher

Whether you call it letter of intent, statement of purpose, personal letter or academic statement, it all comes down to one thing: when you’re applying for certain university or college programs, you will have to convince the admission committee that you are the best candidate for that program and they should select you . You think you’ve mastered all the tips and tricks for composition or essay writing? Fine and good, but I’m afraid they won’t be of much help here. You see, academic statements are in a league of their own. A great academic statement is more than just writing; it is an art.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while you write your statement of purpose.

1. Open your statement with a bang!

You want your reader to be captured by your story from start to finish. The idea is that they should remember you many hours after they finish reading, and still do when the time comes to select suitable candidates.

2. Don’t sell yourself short

Grades are indeed part of the criteria for admission. Having good grades is an advantage, but this may not necessarily get you selected. Your letter is the best tool to market yourself. Do you know why schools ask for a statement of purpose? Well, that’s because they want to know about you. They want to know what kind of candidate you are and what kind of student you’ll be. Remember that many schools have a reputation to maintain, and they are counting you to uphold that reputation wherever you go. They also are interesting in knowing why you want to embark on your selected program and how it will affect your future career. So, cut to the chase and sell yourself. Put a price on yourself by letting them know what you’re worth and why they’ll be making a big mistake in not picking you.

3. Tell your story

The beauty of the word “individual” is that every person is unique. Your personal background, life experiences, values and beliefs are unique to you and no one else. This is what differentiates your letter from everyone else’s. Talk about your academic background and life experiences that buttress the reasons for your chosen program and future career.

4. Proofread your letter

Nothing spells disaster like an error-ridden letter. If your whole application package isn’t thrown out, then your being considered a serious contender will be called into question. Take time to check your work for consistency, punctuation, accuracy and style. That your work should be flawless is not negotiable. Grammatical, mechanical errors or errors of any kind have no place in your statement of purpose.

5. Address your academic problems

If you performed poorly in some courses, do explain why. You may have been ill or going through a crisis; state  reasons that affected your performance and show how you bounced back. This tells the admission committee that you do not shy away from challenges and gives them an idea of your preparedness for some of the challenges you will face in your new program of study. 

Best of luck.